Monday, January 30, 2006


Continuing with my post from last week about Detroit not getting a fair shake, I had to share this with you.

And here is a St. Louis sportswriter's take. I read the St. Louis paper regularly and know that they are very similar to Detroit, except in terms of national reputation, so I would expect them not to be too harsh.

Okay, I'm over that for now…I'll keep you posted of any particular article that pisses me off.

I have some new assignments for work and I have to tell you that one of them sucks so badly that I can't even contemplate starting it. At first, I didn't think it was any big deal as I had done something similar for the previous Big Boss. Then the New Big Boss sent me a spreadsheet saying: "I want it to look like this." I almost cried when I opened it up. It's going to be a NIGHTMARE to do. My way? Doable and easy to read. His way? Hell on Earth and a bitch to find the data amidst all the colors and shapes he wants me to include. So, instead of doing it, I figured I'd write a post!

I need a massage so badly, it's not even funny. I held off, obviously, while I didn't know if I'd have a job and then last week one of my co-workers gave me TWO $50 gift certificates to Very sweet of him, but my massage therapist doesn't work at any of the locations. No, I'm really not bitching about this. I looked up all the day spas in the Detroit area and printed up the first ten within 15 miles of home. Now, I prefer not to drive long distances to a massage because driving home in Detroit traffic would eliminate the relaxation effect of the massage. Time to call and see what's out there. I'm just worried that I’m going to get one of those wimp-ass massages where the person is scared of hurting you, so they don't put any real pressure into it and then I'll be all annoyed at the waste of it.

And now that the axe is no longer hanging over my head I have no excuses and my butt will be back at the gym this afternoon. I was here by 5:15 this morning, so I'm gone by 1:45 and at the gym by 2:15, so I hope I won't have to fight for an elliptical machine. And then joy of joys, going for Indian food tonight with Ursamajor. It's been SSSSOOOO long since we've been! And my friend Pamela told me yesterday that she heard our Indian restaurant is closing! I will be so so so so bummed if that's true.

My weekend was nothing to write home about. I ran a bunch of errands on Friday and was just dead exhausted by the time I got home. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. Damn, I am a partier! Saturday was laundry, a little knitting, watched The Aviator (Leonardo DiCaprio does NOTHING for me) and then decided to read a book. I started and finished S is for Silence, the latest Sue Grafton book. Sunday was Mass, then the post office where I got a thank you gift off to Smed for the really cool CDs he sent me, from there it was on to the Farm Market for some fresh fruits and vegetables. Then I watched Lost in Translation which I, quite surprisingly for me, liked, followed by the reading of another book, Bloodsport by Dick Francis. I picked it up Friday night and it was amazingly a Dick Francis book I didn't have and even more amazingly, hadn't read before! He hasn't written a book in years and I'm very sad, because I desperately love his books, and it makes me wonder how much longer he's going to be around as he's pretty darn old (actually, only born in 1920, so he's not that old). He is one of less than five authors (also Jack Higgins, John Sandford, Sue Grafton) whose books I'll pick up the second I see them, hardcover cost be damned! Shoot, I just read this which says that although it was Dick's name on the books that it was a collaboration with his wife and she died in 2000 and afterwards he said he'd never write anything longer than a persona letter again. I guess I don’t need to look anymore.

Back to Lost in Translation. I watched this movie fully expecting to hate every second of it, but a number of friends loved it and so I gave it a chance. I'm really glad I did. I even liked Bill Murray in it! *gasp* I'm sorry, I know he's pretty popular and all that, but I have had Bill Murray issues since living in SF where Julius made me watch Kingpin (okay, he didn't make me, but I had no clue it was going to be as bad as it was) with Bill Murray and I realise that it's probably a testament to his acting ability that I couldn't stand him in it, but that character coupled with the fact that a co-worker had him on her List of Five was really more than I could handle. Viewing Bill Murray as a sex symbol just didn't work for me. Maybe I'm ready to give Bill's movies another chance – although nothing will ever induce me to see Kingpin ever again! God, that movie was bloody awful!!!

And I guess I better get back to contemplating the Nightmare Project. Have a good one!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tie Your Mother Down

Yesterday I did the Dance of Relief. It is slightly different from the Happy Dance in that there is less exuberance, but no less feeling involved. We got the news shortly after 8:00 a.m. that our jobs were safe, but to refrain from doing the Happy Dance as other departments weren't done and it would be unseemly to be all happy and dancing willy-nilly while people were losing their jobs. Although nobody showed any emotion whatsoever in the meeting when it was announced, the feeling of relief was palpable the rest of the day throughout our area. People were really smiling for the first time this month. And I spent a little time in the afternoon going around the building to check on the status of my friends. They were all safe as of yesterday afternoon. Yay!

Thanks to all who sent good vibes, said prayers, lit candles, thought good thoughts for me, as they seem to have done the trick! Jobs are a good thing to have when the rent is due!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

One Year Of Love

I've been saying this for years. It always pisses me off when Detroit wins a championship and some smart ass has to say something about us rioting. It was over 20 years ago, people. When are you going to give us a break? Our beloved sports teams have won a number of championships since then and there hasn't been a single bit of trouble. For the first Red Wings (and second and third) Stanley Cups in close to 50 years, we had a million plus people downtown for the parade. There was no rioting, there were no fights, just a bunch of very happy Detroiters celebrating. I'll bet we had a ton of out of town media here for it, but since there were no problems, they left disappointed and gave probably 10 seconds on their news coverage – if that.

Did you even know that a woman DIED during the Boston Red Sox's celebration of their World Series? Probably not, but I'd bet BIG bucks that if it had happened in Detroit, the ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD would have heard about it. Many other cities in this country have rioted and generally acted stupidly after championship wins, but it's not a story unless it happens in Detroit.

One of these days someone is going to say something nice about Detroit in a national forum and Detroiters will all faint from the pure shock. I'm looking forward to that day, as I love my city.

A friend just forwarded (okay, it was yesterday) this column to me and I had to share it - because as I said, I love this city and even if I can convince just one person to look at Detroit and not immediately think "hellhole," I'll be happy...or at least, happier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I Walk On Guilded Splinters

I don't have much to write about as my whole being seems to be taken up with the possibility of a lay-off. I have a lot to say about the whole process, but think it's best if I don't. But trust me, if I've seen you or talked to you in the past few days you've heard my diatribe on the topic.

I'd tell you about my weekend, but I can't remember Friday for the life of me. I might have watched a movie, but it wasn't one of my Netflix ones, so I can't track. Saturday was very exciting as I made an emergency trip to my eye doctor. Let's hope BC&BS will pay for it. They don't seem to pay for anything freaking else. I watched the Red Wings kick the Avs' butts, which is always enjoyable. That evening I had a graduation get together to attend. A friend got his Masters in something or other (are you enjoying the detail?), so we celebrated the end of his paper-writing days. We had dinner, chatted, ate cheesecake and then watched the 40-year Old Virgin which was funny, but did cause me to shake my head in some spots. Men are just weird. What was with the scene where the guys were hanging out and just breaking fluorescent lighting tubes? After the movie we sat around and chatted and before I knew it was past midnight which pretty much meant I wasn't going to make it to the other party I had that night.

Sunday was another very exciting day – Mass, grocery store and movies. I was desperately in need of food as I was down to one Boca burger, some frozen spinach, one slice of American cheese and Ramen noodles. Pathetic.

I did watch some interesting movies, however. The first was called "And starring Pancho Villa as Himself." It was an HBO movie starring Antonio Banderas as Pancho Villa. I didn't know Spaniards were capable of pronouncing Spanish without the "th" sound every other letter, but he sounded Mexican! I thought it was fascinating, but that could be because of my natural love/affinity of all things Mexico. Way back in 1914 Pancho needed money for his revolution because President Wilson had an embargo against Mexico, so he sent a letter to Mutual Film Company offering to let them film the revolution for $20,000 (if I remember correctly) in gold and 20% of profits. They took him up on his offer, but Pancho Villa and the revolutionaries did not come across well (remember this was the silent film era). Randolph Hearst owned land down in Mexico and as he was in danger of losing said land if Pancho won, he was intent on turning American sentiment against PV. Frank Thayer of Mutual Film Corp didn't like the way the newspapers in the States were treating Pancho, so he proposed another film. Mutual and Pancho agreed and the second movie was made. This was apparently the first almost 2 hour movie. Before that movies were only 2 reels of 15 minutes each, while this one was going to be 7. The original movie is long gone but records of its existence remain, and from all accounts it changed the way most Americans viewed him and the Revolution.

The second movie I watched was K-Pax with Kevin Spacey. I liked it. Quite a bit. Of course, I love Kevin Spacey as an actor and artist. I think he's brilliant. I'm not really a fan of sci-fi, but to me this was not really a sci-fi flick, but an exploration of people and relationships – how's that for sounding high-falutin'? Brief synopsis: Jeff Bridges is a psychiatrist at the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute and Kevin Spacey is sent there because he says he's from the planet K-Pax. Jeff obviously doesn't believe him and goes about trying to figure out what's really going on. In the meantime, Kevin is curing the other members of the hospital and bringing about other changes. At one point I thought the ending was going to piss me off, but it didn't – but I'm not going to ruin it for you by telling you the ending. I seriously recommend this movie.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Not a real post, just a meme...and actual tags.

I've been tagged by Jason.

4 Jobs you have had in your life: babysitting (by the age of 13), Burger King (every job they had, I did as I worked there for six years), Circulation Desk clerk and book shelver at the University Library (I used to be able to say my alphabet backwards), Secretary/Admin at University

4 Movies you could watch over and over: The Italian Job (newer one, although I have watched the Michael Caine version twice), Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Ever After

4 Places you have lived: Redford, MI; Inkster, MI; Dearborn, MI; San Francisco, CA

4 TV Shows you love to watch: How Do I Look?; What Not To Wear; I Love the 80s, Cold Case Files

4 Places you have been on Vacation: Mexico City; Cairo, Egypt; Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Boise, ID (it was one vacation); Toronto, ONT

4 Websites you visit daily: The Freep; SFGate; The Ecology Fund; and Red Jellyfish to click for the rainforest and the chimps.

4 of your favourite foods: Pizza, asparagus tempura sushi, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches

4 Places you would rather be right now: Home, almost anywhere warm where there's no chance of a snowball in hell of it snowing tomorrow.

4 Bloggers you are tagging: Dave, Erica, Ursamajor, and Smed

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tear Stained Eye

Nice guy. Glad I don't live next to this lovely human being.

If this doesn't scare you, then you probably agree with the stance. But then think, how would you feel if they were going after the other side? It's University, where you're supposed to learn to think critically. Why be afraid of that?

Really boring rant next:

Why oh why do people insist on making movies from books and then NOT FOLLOWING THE BOOK??? And I can't even blame Hollywood this time, as it was an English movie based in Spain. Let me back up. I watched Uncovered last night. It's "based" on The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte, and was his first book translated into English (it might also have been his first book). I read the book back in 2001 and really liked it and have subsequently bought all of his books. My issues with the movie are myriad and I don't think I’m being nitpicky. Examples of me not being nitpicky: The book was based in Madrid, Spain, but the movie took place in Barcelona. I can understand this as Barcelona is infinitely more interesting as background with all of its Gaudí influenced architecture. I can understand combining two characters into one – even though it significantly changed some of the plot – because it could have gotten a bit unwieldy. But what oh what was the reason behind making Julia, the lead (Kate Beckinsale – I was NOT impressed with her acting, I have to say), sneeze any time a male person of the opposite sex tried to kiss her? NOT IN THE BOOK! A stupid addition and really annoying.

I got out my copy of the book and kept stopping the movie and speed-reading to see how it compared. Yes, I know that means that it's my fault that I was noticing all these differences, but I just don't approve. Another difference: in the book they find a chess expert who is in his 40s, described as diffident, and even though he's the best chess player the chess club guy/proprietor/whatever has seen, he never wins a match. In the movie, he's a young, cocky Gypsy (they made a big point of making sure we knew this) who plays in the parks to make money, and therefore, wins. I guess they wanted a love interest for Kate Beckinsale. I finally had to stop reading the book and just watch the movie, because I had to go to bed, but I'm going to finish the book and find out if the ending was the same.

I read a review somewhere that had someone saying that it wasn't a very well done mystery as they figured it out halfway through. I have to defend the book and say that it was much better written and it was not as obvious (at all) as it was in the movie. If I were an author of the stature of Perez-Reverte, I would not be pleased with the treatment my book received at the hands of the movie people.

The highlight of the movie for me: Peter Wingfield. Although I had to drop him from my List of Five, I don't have to stop ogling him whenever possible. And yes, he's the reason I put the movie on my list – without realising that it was a not so brilliantly done movie of a book I enjoyed. In Highlander they always made him look thin and a bit wimpy, but in the movie (and it was the same year he started in Highlander) he was the stud, so he was dressed in tight shirts and acting all sexy and hot. Although that type of guy always makes me laugh, it was interesting to see him acting like that. I may be biased, but I think he did a good job.

I finished reading the first book in the Queen of Freedom trilogy by Christian Jacq and started the second one, The War of the Crowns (finding one in a Detroit area bookstore was an adventure which took most of Sunday) Monday while waiting for my dentist appt. I'm more than halfway through it and can't wait to get to the third and last book, The Flaming Sword. If you are the least bit interested in Ancient Egypt, I would recommend Christian Jacq. A few years ago I read his five-volume set on Ramses and it was utterly fascinating. He has another trilogy out and it's going to be darn hard not picking that up when I'm done with this one.

If you were to ask me if I liked historical fiction, I'd probably say No, because I immediately think of bodice ripper Victorian romance novels. But I've read some books that are probably best described as historical fiction are the Aztec series by Gary Jennings (Aztec, Aztec Blood and Aztec Autumn) and the Egyptian series by Christian Jacq. And I loved those books. The first Aztec book was about a million pages long (or a thousand) and I generally find books that long hard to get into because you read the equivalent of one book (say, 300 pages) and you're not anywhere near the halfway point (or so it seems), and then you get a little discouraged. In the end though, it was well worth the time invested in it.

I'm conning myself into going to the gym with promises that I can read there. Yesterday I ellipticalled for a full hour, so I felt pretty good about myself. Now to make myself go more than once a week. *sigh* I'm so lame.

No real news here, but please please please send prayers, thoughts, good vibes this way. My company is announcing lay-offs on Monday and I have to say that I'm more than a little nervous.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alexander Nevsky

I believe that I promised a number of days ago to tell you all about the DSO's treatment of Mahler's Sym #5. First off, I think Mahler's Fifth Symphony is my favorite symphony, not just of his, but all composers (that I now know). I must have heard it first in a performance in San Francisco, but can't remember really how I came to know it. I bought the CD and played the heck out of it. And then one day a couple of years ago I lent it to my cousin. He loved it, too, so I gave him his own copy and told him that the next time the DSO performed it, we would go. When the schedule for this season came out, there it was, but not on a Friday which is the series I always get. I told him to hold the date (tough thing for a very busy teenager) and I bought the tickets back in November. Not only was it the DSO playing my favorite symphony, it was going to be conducted by one of my favorite conductors, Peter Oundjian.

The performance was this past Saturday and we decided that we wanted to get there early to hear the pre-concert talk with Charles Greenwell. Since we both love the piece of music, we wanted to know as much as possible. Mr. Greenwell blew through the Mozart symphony (#35) that we were going to hear first pretty quickly, since the meat of the program was the Mahler (17 minutes for the Mozart vs 72 minutes for the Mahler). He went through each movement and played excerpts from each (except the fourth because he said it was too cruel to cut that beautiful music off) and explained things. It was quite interesting and helped me to find the recurring themes – I'm not a music person in the least, so I need that kind of pointer. My cousin, on the other hand, actually understood even more of what was said since he plays the trombone in his high school jazz band (which won a contest in Hawaii last year – the hosting school has always won it previously).

We were mesmerised for the full 72 minutes (except when shaking our heads over people leaving during the nominal break between movements) by the sheer power of the piece. As I said I'm not musically inclined, I just like to listen to music, so I can't tell you how the bass clarinet complemented the English horn or anything like that. All I can say is that if you like classical music (and not just the Baroque and Romantic periods) and are willing to give something written in the 1900s a try, this is worth the effort. And if it's being played live somewhere near you, go! And get seats up high where you can see the whole stage because it's fascinating to watch, as well as hear. There were a few times when only one instrument was playing and I thought it was the flute (or whatever) and when I looked, it wasn't the flute and I had to look around the stage to find the instrument. My cousin said he experienced the same thing. And when every single instrument on the stage is being played, it's just overwhelming as the music washes over you. I was exhausted, yet exhilarated when it was over. And the audience showed their appreciation by giving them a five to ten minute standing ovation. We made Mr. Oundjian come out at least five times. And unlike the people who walked out, I could have sat through a second performance immediately thereafter, although I'm not sure the symphony could have played it a second time that quickly. I'm sure it's a physically demanding piece.

And that is my not so expert assessment of the DSO and Mahler's Fifth. And for a real review, go here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Life Ends

At 8:00 last night I was standing in a small room with YS and Mom crying as YS's 18 year old cat was put to sleep. Can I just tell you that it sucked to the nth degree? I was completely exhausted by the time it was over, but I couldn't just drop YS off at the house and go on home to bed. That would have been cruel. Going home to an empty house when you're used to being greeted by a little furball is so not fun, as I found out when I had to put my beloved Tikal to sleep.

YS insists she's never getting another cat because it sucks when they die. I tried to tell her to remember the 18 good years, but she wasn't listening last night. Yes, I agree, having to put your pet to sleep does suck rocks, and I thought my heart was going to break when I lost Tikal, but I can't imagine going home every day to an empty apartment where there's no Boris or Igor. And even though I might shake my head over Boris' habit of carrying all of his beanie baby toys down the hallway when I'm not home or asleep and get slightly annoyed when I trip over one, I think it's cute and makes me wonder what's going on in his head. And even though Igor has a tendency to eat too fast and then puke (last night he didn't have the sense to get off the bed – although he did upchuck on a t-shirt and not the duvet), I still can't imagine not having them on my lap while I sit on the couch, or sleeping next to me, or hanging out in the bathroom whenever I'm in there. They make me laugh. And that's all good in my book. Will it suck when they leave me? Will I cry buckets and buckets and feel as if my heart was ripped from my body? Probably, but in the end, I'd never say it wasn't worth it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

For all you crazy music geek types

Ben O. posed an interesting question to his readers on his regular Friday (Saturday) Feedback. He wants to hear about your "perfect rock 'n roll band." Musicians who have left this mortal coil are fair game. I know that all you who know me will be shocked to hear that I did NOT choose Ian Curtis as my lead singer. ;-)

So, go visit Ben O.

Ubuntu and Forgiveness

PSA: Is everybody (other than me) aware that the cost to mail a first class letter in the U.S. went up to 39 cents yesterday? How did I miss all news of this?

The weekend was my usual insane mess of stuff. Friday my friend SK came over to help me with the knitting I needed to do before the Finishing Class on Saturday morning. Now this Finishing Class was supposed to teach me how to put the pieces of a sweater together, essentially. I say "was" because after spending Thursday and Friday knitting tiny little sweater pieces (back, RH front, LH front and two sleeves), I woke up Saturday morning to icy roads. I listened to the traffic report while in the shower and I was planning on going because all freeways listed as closed due to accidents were not ones I had to drive. Then a woman reporter got on and said she was driving on I-696 and within the space of half a mile there were four spin out accidents and another one happened just in front of her. Now if I lived a mile or two away I would have gone, but driving 15-20 miles on icy roads when the State Police were recommending staying home unless you absolutely had to go out, I decided to listen, as I didn't ABSOLUTELY HAVE to go out. I was actually bummed because I had done the knitting and I thought it would be good to know what I'm doing when I finally make myself that sweater I bought yarn for a year ago.

Of course, before SK came over, I had to clean the house. She said I didn't, but I did. I even vacuumed!!! (I hate and despise vacuuming and really really wish someone would invent a silent vacuum – which is still affordable.) I stayed up late finishing up the two lousy sleeves because I kept forgetting to switch from the smaller needles to the larger needles after finishing the ribbing. I was getting seriously annoyed with myself.

After determining that I was not leaving the house Saturday morning I laid back down on my bed and just veged with my eyes closed – half-dozing – until 10:30. I should have gone to yoga, but by the time I remembered, it was too late. I watched two movies on Saturday. One I highly highly highly recommend. The other I do not, unless you like bad acting in action movies. You know it's bad when the second best English-speaking actor in the movie is killed within the first 10-15 minutes. Yeah, I know you wrote the script, but with your acting ability, you should have killed yourself off. It was unbelievably awful. Oh yeah, it was called Moscow Heat. It's not even listed at! How desperate was Michael York to do that movie??? The reason I had it on my list? Adrian Paul. He had made the decision to end Highlander: The Series because he thought he was a star and wanted to make movies. I have rented a number of his movies and it's apparent why he's gone back to make more Highlander movies. He's a good actor, but he's not getting offered very good roles.

The other movie I watched I had chosen because of a post made by Scott last week. I checked In My Country out on Netflix and saw that Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche were in it and that it sounded truly interesting. It was an amazing movie. I've been telling everybody for the past two days that they should see it. As soon as it was over (along with all the special features), I took it downstairs and knocked on Ursamajor's door and told her that she had to watch it. OOMA and TheGirl were playing loud, shoot-em up video games (which was how I knew they were home), so Ursa was planning on watching it right then.

It was about The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa after apartheid was deemed illegal. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up by the Government of National Unity to help deal with what happened under apartheid. The conflict during this period resulted in violence and human rights abuses from all sides. No section of society escaped these abuses.

It was all about forgiveness, and not vengeance or revenge. Victims were encouraged to come forward when the Commission traveled to their town and confront the perpetrators of the crimes against them. And as long as the perpetrators told the full truth and could establish the order came from above, they were forgiven and would not be charged. The movie shared the most incredible stories from the hundreds and hundreds hours of tapes made. The people at the top, I believe, were tried, but as that was not the gist of this story that was only alluded to.

I don't think I'm doing an adequate job explaining why I think everybody should see this movie. But I do. I was floored by the idea that these people honestly believed in the healing power of forgiveness and didn't just give lip service to it. They lived it. There's a South African word (Afrikaans?) "ubuntu" which means essentially that we are all connected. What I do to harm somebody doesn't just harm that person, it harms their sister and mother, etc., but it also harms me. It was explained so much more beautifully in the movie, but I hope it made some sense.

The movie was based on the book Country of My Skull by Antje Krog (Here's a piece written by her on the TRC which was a little easier to deal with than the above link.) and although some critics ( gave this movie absolutely horrendous reviews) think that the subject might have been better served by a documentary, the truth of the matter is that it'll probably reach more people as a story than a raw documentary. Although I enjoy documentaries, I would say that the majority of people in this country aren't going to go out of their way to see one. And I agree with the producers that this story was too important to stay hidden.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the DSO and Mahler's Symphony #5.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Heaven is a secret

11F – That was the temp as I walked in this morning. I am one of those people who don't really care about the whole lack of sun in Michigan in winter issue because I find that when it's sunny, it's bloody f***ing cold. And when it's cloudy as it's been for the past few weeks, it's been into the 40s. My lovely cloud cover is now gone and it's back to being colder than a well-digger's something or other. I know I’m in the minority but I'd rather have it grey and raining, than bright and snowy.

I have been following this case since it occurred and I have no clue if the police officer should have been acquitted or not. My concern is that if this homeless man's family was so worried and concerned about him, why was he homeless? I can't imagine that my family would let me sleep on the streets of Detroit instead of finding a spare bit of floor or couch.

Related to yesterday's story of the parents who left the kids home alone while they partied in Vegas (the father's attorney says that it's not as bad as it sounds – whatever), I was remembering a time in the seventh grade when I was home alone after school (I wonder where my siblings were) and the phone rang. The person asked for my mother and I knew I wasn't supposed to say she wasn't home or that I was alone, so I said she was unavailable (does anybody who gets a child on the phone believe that?). The person was very very persistent while I was equally persistent about taking a message. I ended the phone call abruptly after he said, "I can't tell you that" when I asked for a name. I ran screaming out of the house scared out of my mind that someone was coming to the house. Thank God it was September, so the weather was nice and that it was 1976 so I knew all my neighbors and there were people home. I think I ended up across the street trembling while the neighbors took care of me until Mom got home – she might have just started working at Burger King and she probably got home shortly at 4:00. This was during the time of the Oakland County Child Killer, so I think the whole "Be wary of strangers" had been even more prevalent.

It turned out that that the caller had been a friend of the father's (FF) from work who was trying to play a prank on my Mom (it was her b-day) because of something FF had done earlier in the day. I guess he went into FF's office and said, "I think I just scared the crap out one of your kids." I wouldn't return to the house until someone else got home (preferably an adult), but when I found out I was quite embarrassed. I think my parents actually commended me though on not losing my head or telling a stranger I was home alone. And I think I got an apology from the co-worker. I can't even imagine being left home alone at that age for five days (although the kids in SF were only alone for just over a day, before they were rescued).

Oh, look, here's a surprise! Pat Robertson is proving himself to be an ass, yet again.

On to New Year's weekend! While driving to Lansing on Thursday I got a phone call. I didn't recognise the number, but for some reason actually answered it. It was the fiancée of LB's best friend calling to tell me that they had planned a NYE's party at the last minute and had sent out the e-mail on Tuesday (which I didn't get as I didn't turn on my computer the entire time I was off), but figured a lot of people weren't checking e-mail, so were making calls. Now, I had thought they would have a party since he has done so for the past however many years. I had decided not to go though and spend NYE at my aunt and uncle's. That was until the fiancée said, "Party starts at 7:30, the wedding will be at 11:30." HUH!?! "I thought the wedding was Feb. 11."

They decided that in order to have the wedding where they wanted it, they would have had to cut 60 people (not that there was anywhere near 210 people at the house on NYE) – for some reason there was a 150 person limit. The moving up of the wedding date meant that the LB was coming to town though. She said they were using him as bait to get my family to the party. I told her that all she had to say was "Wedding's at 11:30" to get me there. I didn't want to go to the party, but wasn't going to blow off their wedding – even if it was at the last minute and expressly to get the tax break.

It was good to see LB and a few of his friends whom I haven't seen since YS's graduation party in August, but I would have had more fun at my aunt and uncle's house playing Sorry! with my youngest cousin and kicking his butt.

Oops, forgot to tell you about Friday. I think I did nothing during the day (except knit, of course) and although I'm usually very good at avoiding parties where I know the host and one other person, I had agreed to attend an old friend's New Year's Eve Eve party. Pamela had invited me to the party and then when I saw Andrew at the bar on Thursday he said, "You're coming tomorrow night, right?" "Oh yeah, where's the house?" I got to the party and knew only Andrew as Pamela had gone out to dinner. I love that feeling of not belonging – reminds me of high school. After about a half hour Andrew's ex-girlfriend showed up so I knew one more person. Pamela finally showed up (I had been *this* close to leaving – I felt like such a loser – for some reason, I have always felt as if I'm not cool enough for Andrew's friends) and everything was fine. I ended up staying until 2:00 a.m. and then had to drive Pamela and somebody else home. The funny thing is that I'm the way that Pamela knows Andrew. Pamela actually says I'm her Kevin Bacon, although she can usually get back to me in fewer than six degrees. Craziness!!

I actually had a good time and the only people who ended up treating me as if I were invisible were the people who were there when I first got there. Everybody else was very nice and friendly.

Saturday I slept in, knitted and watched my Sports Night DVDs until it was time to head to the party. YS called me multiple times (I had the phone on vibrate and as it was in my purse on the kitchen floor and I was in either the bathroom or the bedroom, I kept missing it) to find out what I was wearing. I was in that lovely female mode called "I feel fat and ugly" which makes it exceedingly difficult to get dressed and want to leave the house. I think YS set me up though. She said that she thought the house was going to be warm with all the people in it, so she was going to wear something light. Yeah, I wear a really cute spaghetti strap top and she shows up in a turtleneck. Thankfully I had my new Casual Corner fleece, so I ended up wearing that all night long as it was FREEZING in that house! I swear YS hates for me to look better than her (it rarely happens). If I show up wearing something sleeveless, I look stupid and she looks smart by wearing the turtleneck. Whatever.

YS had her beau come to the party. He lives in another state and she met him through his sister whom she met at one of her jobs. They've been emailing, IMing and talking on the phone for months now and they had met the week before Christmas as he came back to Michigan for the holiday. She had spent a fair amount of time with him, so I guess she liked him in person and well enough to introduce him to her family. He was nice enough, but I didn't get to talk to him that much. He seems infinitely better than her last one (who ended up putting GPS on her car after she broke up with him and admitting it about a month or so ago and not understanding why she was upset – we won't mention the fact that I told her he was a jerk from the very beginning), but as you can tell that's kind of damning with faint praise.

My Sunday plans got messed up because since LB was in town YS wanted to move Grandma's Christmas to Sunday so that LB could see everybody (aunts, uncles, cousins, Grandma, siblings, nieces, nephews). I couldn't very well be snotty and say No. I gave the gift for the Secret Santa Gift Exchange to the person hosting the party on Thursday night (just in case), so I didn't have to worry about being there at 5:00. Which was a good thing since we didn't even eat until 6:00 p.m., although we got there at 2:00 p.m. I finally said my good-byes at 7:00 p.m. and we hadn't even thought about presents yet. My aunt and Grandma gave me my presents and I ran out the door. Grandma gave me a check. Woohoo! My aunt gave me a very pretty and unique bracelet.

I raced to the friend's house who was holding the party even though I really wanted to go home and change out of my clothes (I was still in my church clothes), but I knew if I stopped I would be in big trouble because I was so tired I just wanted to go to bed. I don't think I missed anybody at the party, but if I had been another half hour I would have missed one of the babies (and I would have hated that). I received the Tenth Anniversary DVD of Toy Story (yay!) and To Sir, With Love (double Yay!!!). I love frivolous gifts! The last two nights I spent watching the Toy Story DVDs, although I must confess that I gave up on the extras last night when they started getting really technical. Some of it was included most definitely for the computer animator geek types.

LB left on Monday and I had called him Sunday night to say that if he needed a ride to the airport (I thought Mom would be working as she loves to work), but he never called. I was a tad upset when I talked to YS later to find out that they had gotten up early to have breakfast with him. Would I have gone? Very likely, but it's hard to be included when you don't get invited. I remember that they did the same thing the last time he came to town. Since I live on the other side of town (not that far, really, it's not like I'm on the East Side), they don't think to invite me. It's like they're keeping him to themselves. You'd think that when he got the message from me saying that I'd get up to take him that he'd say, "Hey, let's call the middle sister." BAB and SIL think they don't get invited places because they have kids – I must not get invited for some other reason…oh, yeah, selfishness. ;-)

I spent Monday on the couch watching my Sports Night DVDs. I barely knitted as I think I really wanted a break from it. I started a scarf for me (one of my splurges on Thursday $8) and then started the scarf I owed a woman at work, but I was just not motivated and didn't get a whole lot accomplished. I guess I needed a true vege day. And now you're all caught up on my Holiday Week. I do live the brilliantly exciting and enviable life, don't I? ;-)

Monday I'll tell you all about the Finishing Class I'm taking tomorrow morning. I hope it turns out better than I think it will!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some Weird Sin

What the bloody hell is wrong with people? Make sure those puppies are taken care of, but don't bother finding someone to stay with the kids. They'll be fine for five days while you're partying in Vegas.

Last night I had a dream that the YS found my blog by typing our last name into Google and this site being the first one listed. I was all panicked and I had to hurry and log on and lock it up. Of course, you can't lock in blogger which is one way it's deficient to diaryland. I guess since it's supposed to be a blog and not a diary…who knows. Thankfully it's not the case and if you know my full name, the only thing you'll find is a message from me to my cousin when he was in Iraq.

And how was that for a short update? I hope to write more tomorrow!!

(And for the record, I happen to love the Candy song by Iggy Pop - all the reviewers at dissed it.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year!

I did not get as many days of sitting on my tuchas as I was hoping. Friday before Christmas I had a party to attend and it was a lovely time. Of course, I got to hold an adorable baby (born in April) for a good portion of the night and I always think that's enjoyable. The baby is the most perfect baby ever! Even though it was way past her bedtime (she goes to bed at 7:30 and sleeps at least 12 hours), she was as good as gold. No fussing or crying or anything. She made happy noises and doesn't stress when someone other than her parents hold her. I got to see her THREE times over the course of the holidays and it was all good.

Saturday morning friends were having a Christmas Eve brunch at their new home and got to see the perfect baby again. I only knew the hosts when I got there, but their friends were all very pleasant and fun to talk with. I even splurged and had a small glass of champagne. I had started a scarf for my priest the night before (got a whole whopping inch completed), so I finished that up so I could take it to him that night. He really is the cutest thing ever (79 years old) and told me after I had given him his new blue scarf that he had thought to himself earlier that day that he was going to get a new blue scarf that night. Those Jesuits are so darn smart! He had given the one I had made him last year (of not fabulously soft yarn) to a homeless person who had stopped by the rectory and was cold, so I had told him I would make him a new one. He told me he would NOT be giving this one away.

Sunday morning I finished up the shawl/oversized scarf I was giving my SIL and made the fruit dip as my contribution to Christmas Dinner. Fruit Dip is amazingly easy and quite yummy. 1 cup of light brown sugar combined with 1 package (8 oz) of cream cheese (I used the 1/3 less fat/Neufchatel cheese) and 1 tsp of vanilla. Mix that together and serve with cut fruit. I had apples, pears and kiwi, although it didn't work overly well with kiwi since kiwi is a tad messy when eating with your hands. I couldn't make the Fruit Salsa I kind of really wanted to make (trust me, the fruit dip was TONS easier) because there were no strawberries or raspberries in my little neck of the woods and I wasn't going searching. Maybe my family can enjoy the fruit salsa another time.

I was about 15 minutes late to the OS's house, but was still the first one there. Whew! It's my reputation to be on time (literally the only one in my family) and I was happy not to be beaten. It's the little things.

YS made a pretty crappy soup which even she admitted was missing something – yeah, like good flavor. Mom brought a family recipe of potatoes – in cream and butter – because we're all about watching our fat grams and cholesterol level. SIL brought the requisite green bean casserole (Thank God I only have to eat that twice a year) while Grandma brought her broccoli casserole (very yummy, but would be even yummier if Grandma knew how not to cook veggies until they're limp and vitamin-less).

Highlights of my Christmas Day presents:

Humidifier (I had asked Mom for my b-day but w/o even looking she told me she didn't spend that much on b-day presents, so she gave me a check which we all know went directly into my bank account and got used for something else.) I love my humidifier. I can already tell a difference! I had no clue that I didn't have to wake up every morning with a sore throat from living in a dry apt.!

Feather Pillows - I've needed new pillows forever, but just never got that far. I looked and looked, but just didn't know what to buy. I got some Northern Night pillows from QVC (bought on-line as Mom doesn't have cable, so hence doesn't know the joy of QVC). I don't know that I'm in love with the pillows, but they're working and that's what matters.

S is for Silent by Sue Grafton - At least I think that's the title of her latest book. I've read all of her Alphabet books and generally enjoy them. I'm sure I'll finish it in a couple of hours once I start reading it, but I started The Empire of Darkness: First Volume in the magnificent Queen of Freedom Trilogy by Christian Jacq and am really enjoying it. I read his five-volume series on Ramses and was very excited when I saw that he had a new series based in Ancient Egypt out.

The Terror Children got me a pair of polar bear socks and a rhino Beanie Baby. I didn't even know they were still making Beanie Babies, but I'm very happy with my rhino. He's way cute.

Mom also gave me a couple of pairs of socks, a little notebook and a $40 gift card which is like a credit card in that it can be used anywhere that accepts MasterCard. Do I save it and use it for groceries if I lose my job this month? Or do I go to Victoria's and get that new bra I really need? Or should I get something completely frivolous and pick up this boxset?

As Grandma was getting ready to leave OS's on Christmas Day she said, "I'm having Christmas at my house on Thursday. Does that work for everybody?" I sighed, "I'm busy all day Thursday." Now, for the record, I had plans for two days that entire week plus – Thursday and Sunday. Guess what day she went for next? Yup, you guessed it. "How about Sunday?" Double sigh. In the end, it was planned for Monday and I breathed a sign of relief, because I was really looking forward to the Sweatpants Party where friends all gathered to exchange gifts and hang out.

On Monday I got a call from Grandma saying I had to come over because two of the CA aunts had sent presents to her house but only for Mom, YS and me, so I had to come over prior to Monday to get them so that others wouldn't know. I also had to pick up a GC for the Christmas Gift Exchange that would be happening at the Sweatpants Party and use the GC I got from Mom for Switched On CDs (the best independent record store anywhere) and since everything was in that general direction, I left the house on Tuesday.

My first foray was to the mall where I got really cranky, first trying to find a parking spot and then once inside the mall trying to find the store I needed. I was muttering, "I hate this fucking mall" under my breath the whole time.

Grandma was next on the list and I hung out with her for a little while. My Grandma is the coolest ever, besides being so darn cute (as she's well under 5' tall). She wasn't feeling well, so she was still in her robe (this is huge for Grandma as she has always been up and about and fully dressed pretty early). We chit chatted about whatever and then I opened my presents from the Aunts. The one aunt who never gives me anything that makes sense (she's my Godmother but generally has no clue what would appeal to me) actually came through this year and gave me a GC to Barnes & Nobles. I'm normally a Borders girl (the closest B&N is like 15 miles away), but I'm willing to spend her money on books! The other aunt usually does a great job at gifts. She's intuitive that way. I have never not loved something she gave me…until this Christmas. The first thing was some stationery with my name on it in script. This is actually a pretty big deal as it is IMPOSSIBLE to find Kathleen on stuff. Next time you're in one of those stores that sells stuff with names on it, be it keychains or whatever, check for Kathleen. And if you find it, let me know because I NEVER find my name. Anyway, although it had my name on it in a very pretty style, there was a faux watercolor of a lighthouse. If I had seen it in a store, I would have said, "Oh look, my name. But it's ugly." Ah well…I'll use it to send TY notes to the aunts. The other thing in the box was a goldtone with rhinestone pin of a triceratops. Yup, kids, I received a dinosaur pin. Grandma looked at it and said, "Even I know you only wear silver." I'm quite certain that my aunt thought it was a rhinoceros, and we all know I love rhinos, but GOLD? With RHINESTONES? I'm telling you this is not an attractive pin. Unless you like tacky cheap gold pins with ugly ass rhinestones…and dinosaurs. *sigh*

After an hour or so, Grandma indicated that she was tired and going to nap (very unlike Grandma), so I kissed her Good-bye, said Hasta luego to her husband and headed off to Switched On. I had been thinking all the way there that I was going to get the newly remastered first album of the Stooges, as well as the Spandau Ballet CD they had ordered for me. The Stooges album wasn't where it had been the week before, so BST directed me to its current location, but on the way there, I saw an Iggy Pop Anthology (apparently too new to mention at Oooh! I grabbed that, found The Stooges and then also found a T-Rex compilation of A & B Sides (the one linked is only A-sides, but I couldn't find the one I was looking at). I held up the Stooges and the Iggy albums and asked BST and John which they would pick. They both said The Stooges at first, but then acknowledged that the 2nd CD included might not be all that fabulous, and that the Iggy Anthology would be a better choice. As I had no T-Rex, I asked BST if the compilation was a good choice and he looked over it and said that it was a good introduction. I ended up with the Spandau Ballet, the Iggy Anthology and the T-Rex. And I'm very happy with my choices, although I think I need more Spandau Ballet.

Thursday was my big day out. I went to the Lansing yarn store with Julieu and Spoozy where I bought yarn even though I had planned on buying only black baby alpaca, if they had it, and the yarn for Ursamajor's Christmas present. *sigh* I have actually gone there and bought nothing, but not this time. Oh yeah, we stopped at the outlet mall on the way as Casual Corner and its sister stores are closing. I picked up three way marked down shirts and two fleeces (one $10 and the other $14).

That night was my big night out pretending that I'm still in my 20s. And boy, did I do a lot of pretending! I danced for damn near four hours straight! Thursday was a friend's b-day, so we all met at a local coney island across from the bar where I used to hang out four nights a week dancing and he used to DJ. He's back DJing there on Thursdays doing an 80s night. A bunch of us went to the bar and within a few minutes of being there, he played a song that required me to dance and that was it. I left the dance floor during all New Order songs and anything that I don't deem to be what I think of when I think 80s music (i.e., Michael Jackson – sorry, but you wouldn't have heard Michael Jackson being played in the same bar as New Order back in the 80s). Of course, most of the people in the bar were babies in the 80s, so to them it was like us listening to Sock Hop music. It's very possible that there were songs played that would never have been played together back in the 50s. And the owners of the bar felt it necessary to introduce 80s dancers. There were three raised platforms placed around the dance floor (two on the stage and one on the floor a couple of feet from the stage) on which the "80s dancers" performed. They were theoretically dressed in 80s gear (can you say leg warmers?). The one girl danced with an imaginary pole most of the night. I didn't think any of them danced well and I can't even think about their outfits without wanting to cry, but I guess some of the guys liked one well enough. Thankfully they did not dance all night – just 15 minutes here and there – so I was able to ignore their existence for the most part.

I left for home around 1:00 a.m. and it was good timing as the Vicodin I had taken had worn off and my knee was throbbing. I could barely walk on Friday as my calf muscles were so tight, and I had to put ice on my knee too. It was pathetic. This whole getting old thing is just so not cool. I want to be able to dance all night like I used to. I had such a good time! I saw people I hadn't seen in AGES!!! Mohawk Mike was there, as was crazy hair Anthony. I hadn't seen Anthony since I lived in SF and he hiked the length of CA. I got Anthony's number so if I decide to head up there again I can let him know. There were a lot of people missing, but all in all, I had a great time pretending I was 26 again.

Tomorrow I will bore with every tiny detail with New Year's Weekend! ;-)